Millions choosing to switch accounts and move to a new bank – but should they print out statements before they leave?

  • Campaign group says it can be hard to obtain old bank statements
  • Some banks recommend printing statements before switching elsewhere
  • Keep Me Posted says there is no industry standard for customer records 

Millions of people who switch current account to another bank or building society could face difficulties in accessing old statements in the future, a campaign group warns.

Many of us are used to online banking and instant access to statements of our ingoings and outgoings over the years.

However, research has emerged which shows once you switch, getting information from your ex-bank can be tricky.

Faded out: Once you leave your bank, it may become difficult to get hold of old statements, a mystery shopping exercise shows

Faded out: Once you leave your bank, it may become difficult to get hold of old statements, a mystery shopping exercise shows

In the last year, 1.14million have taken advantage of seven day switching rules, making it easier than ever to ditch banks and try somewhere new.

But Keep Me Posted says there is no industry standard for banks and how they should treat customers looking for historical records once they are no longer a customer.

This could leave many without access to their account history, the campaign group claims.

In a mystery shopping exercise earlier in the month, in which it telephoned bank call centres, it found some providers expect old customers to pay between £5 and £10 to obtain a copies of monthly statements once they have moved away.

In addition, these requests often require the individual to apply in person in their local branch, once their telephone or online banking is officially closed. 

With branches disappearing and fewer staff in many, this can be an excoriating process.

These difficulties come despite statements being necessary documents which can be crucial in big financial decisions, including mortgage lending.

Judith Donovan CBE, chair of Keep Me Posted, said: 'When moving current accounts, it wouldn't occur to most people that it might have an impact on access to their financial history.

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'Once you switch to another bank, these accounts are often closed instantly leaving you without your vital financial information, which is essential for certain transactions - such as applying for a mortgage.

'The current account switching service is a fantastic initiative aimed at liberating people so they can make the best choice when managing their money, but our campaign has encountered a lack of clarity on behalf of the banks.

'We need to enforce a fair approach adopted by all banks for when customers move their money, that way people won't be penalised for trying to improve their finances.'

A sure fire way to tackle any future costs or time delays is to keep a permanent physical record of all of your bank statements by printing them off  while you are still a customer.

We contacted a number of high street banks when it comes to requesting copies of old statements.

Barclays, which had the most amount of net current account switchers leave it in data published last week, says former customers can get the last three months statements to assist with a mortgage application - they can be printed in the branch and staff can certify them for the customer, free of charge.

It adds that it offers statements dated as far back as six years, for a fee of £5.

HSBC, another big loser in the switching battle, hold statements for seven years. It charges £1 per statement sheet, with a maximum charge of £10.

Lloyds and Halifax recommend customers download statements before leaving. You can download statements up to 10 years old.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman added: 'If a customer was registered for paperless statements only and had never received a paper statement, then there would be no charge for the first request of a duplicate statement.

'Where a customer has previously received a paper statement then there is a £5 charge per request, which can include multiple statements.

'We can access past statements as far back as September 2001 for Lloyds Bank customers, and up to 1987 for Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers, depending on their account.'

Nationwide Building Society keep statements for six years after an account is closed. There is a fee of £5 per request for statements.

With Santander, you can still access your online banking and download and print statements going back seven years. 

If you go into a branch or phone requesting a statement, the first one costs £5 and then it's £10 for two or more.

For NatWest/RBS you need to go into branch to get copies of old statements - there is no charge and they print them in branch.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: 'The Data Protection Act requires organisations to only retain personal information for as long as necessary in order to fulfil the original purpose for which it was collected. The Act does not give a specific timeframe for this.

LET US KNOW

Banks have told This is Money how much it should cost and how far records stretch back, but does it tally up with your experience?

Or did you find once you left a bank, it was hard to get hold of old statements? 

Let us know in the comments section below - or e-mail: lee.boyce@thisismoney.co.uk 

'For banks, the length of time they retain a former customer's information will depend on other relevant legislation that they will need to comply with.

'This additional legislation will largely be overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority, for example legislation on the retention of records to help identify and prosecute money launderers.  

'Under the Data Protection Act individuals are able to request copies of the recorded information that an organisation holds about them – this is known as a subject access request. If a bank receives such a request they can charge a maximum fee of £10.'

Anti-money laundering rules require banks to hold customer details for five years.

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